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Pacific Mythology
An Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend
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Author(s) :
Jan Knappert
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Diamond Books
The Pacific covers almost one third of the earth's surface --20,000 km from Singapore to Panama. This vast area of glittering ocean holds a wealth of myths, folktalkes, proverbs, religions and rituals-- and not a few unanswered questions, for islands set far apart have similar languages and customs, while neighbouring countries have formed radically different traditions.

In this encyclopedia of the mythology of the Pacific countries and islands, ranging from Thailand to Tahiti, from Japan to Java and New Zealand to New Britain, Jan Knappert introduces a world of gods and heroes, of mariners sailing the storm-tossed seas to encounter monsters, spirits and beautiful princesses, while demons, ghosts and witches stalk the jungles and love-gods leap from cherry trees to startle the unwary traveller. The vivid colour and romance of the Pacific, reflected in the myths of its peoples, is set forth here with both learning and a story-teller's skill.

What all these people's written and oral literatures and mythologies have in common is the splendid nature of the Pacific coasts, the beauty of those wide skies, and the pure brightness of the light in daytime, of the stars at night.

Jan Knappert has a masters degree in Pacific studies, as well as degrees in Buddhism and Islamic studies. He has written books and articles on the mythologies of Indonesia and Korea, travelled extensively in the Pacific, and spent nearly 50 years working in the field of Oriental studies.